What Back-to-School Tech Can You Score for $209?

The school year is just around the corner, and with a fresh academic semester comes the need for new gadgets. According to a recently released study by the National Retail Federation, families with school-aged children will spend an average of $603.63 on back-to-school necessities—with $209.93 going to electronics purchases.

Considering the high cost of tablets and the most in-demand smartphones (the iPad 2 starts at $499), students are strapped for cash when it comes to buying new tech. But $209 isn’t chump change, so we decided to round up some solid options in this price range. Read on to see what study-friendly tech you can get for $209.93.

Livescribe Echo Smartpen and Mobile Edge ScanFast BackpackLivescribe 4GB Echo Smartpen + Mobile Edge ScanFast Netbook Backpack  =  $199.94

For students who scribble down study notes but have trouble keeping all that information organized, the Livescribe Echo Smartpen (starting at $99) provides an elegant solution. The device records all your notes (and even your voice) and syncs them to Evernote, Facebook, and Livescribe’s Connect software for sharing and reviewing. At $149.95, the 4GB model provides plenty of space, though you can always store your notes on your PC.

After the Smartpen, you’re left with $60—just enough for a backpack to carry your netbook and other gear. The ScanFast Netbook Backpack from Mobile Edge ($49.99) is checkpoint-friendly and designed to fit 8.9- to 13-inch netbooks.

Amazon Kindle 3G + Timbuk2 Nylon Kindle Sleeve = $168.99Amazon Kindle 3G and Timbuk2 Nylon Kindle Sleeve

Textbooks are heavy, but eReaders come to the rescue. Do some of that required reading on Amazon’s best-selling Kindle 3G ($139). This E Ink device comes with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity and offers more than 700,000 titles via the Kindle Store.

 Use that remaining $7o to buy a protective case for your eReader. We like the stripey style of Timbuk2′s Nylon Kindle Sleeve ($29.99), though a slew of other options are available on Amazon and other outlets.

Refurbished Barnes & Noble Nook Color Wi-Fi = $199Refurbished Barnes & Noble Nook Color

It costs $249 through Barnes & Noble, but a manufacturer-refurbished version of the Kindle’s biggest rival is available for $199 on the bookseller’s eBay store. We prefer the Nook Color to the Kindle because it has a beautiful color screen, a great selection of Android apps, and strong web browsing.

Acer Aspire One Netbook = $199.99

Acer Aspire OneThis is a limited-time offer, but it’s one that’s hard to pass up: NewEgg is selling the Acer Aspire One AOD257 -13404 netbook for just $199.99. As a bonus, this comes with an external DVD/Blu-ray drive. The deal is only good through July 31st, so budget-conscious students should step on it.

If you miss out on the Acer Aspire One sale, you still have a fair share of low-priced netbook options. Outlets such as NewEgg offer especially good deals forrefurbished and recertified machines.

Refurbished 8GB Apple iPhone 3GS on AT&T (with two-year contract)

Apple iPhone 3GS

It might not be the latest model, but the iPhone 3GS still has the trademark features that make Apple’s smartphone one of the most popular in the market. AT&T is selling the handset for a ridiculously low $49, though a two-year contract is required. That leaves you with $60 to spend on an iPhone case and to go on a mini shopping spree in the App Store.




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